Romney is launching a bus tour next week with running mate Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanWhy the rush to condemn a carbon tax? House votes to go to conference on farm bill House backs resolution expressing support for ICE MORE in the crucial state of Ohio, after remaining mostly off the campaign trail this week to furiously fundraise for his presidential bid.

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Romney has only held 15 campaign rallies since accepting the Republican nomination 21 days ago — much of his time being devoted to closed-door private fundraisers — so the intensified pace represents a shift in strategy as Election Day nears.


TOMORROW’S AGENDA TODAY:

President Obama campaigns in Manassas, Va.

Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMichelle Obama launches voter registration initiative ahead of midterms: report Dems look for candidate who will punch Trump ‘square in the face’ Queen Elizabeth wore brooch from Obamas on the day Trump arrived in the UK: reports MORE attends fundraisers in Baltimore.

Vice President Biden and Jill Biden will be campaigning in New Hampshire.

Mitt Romney holds a campaign rally in Las Vegas.

Paul Ryan is campaigning in Lakeland, Fla. He will also address the AARP Life @ 50+ Event in New Orleans.


TWEET OF THE DAY: “Tune in to #ParksandRec premier tonight on @NBC - my cameo is Emmy-worthy, so don't miss it! #Knope2012.” — Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainEx-Montenegro leader fires back at Trump: ‘Strangest president' in history McCain: Trump plays into 'Putin's hands' by attacking Montenegro, questioning NATO obligations Joe Lieberman urges voters to back Crowley over Ocasio-Cortez in general MORE (R-Ariz.)


QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I wish there was a third party. But right now I will wholeheartedly support Obama even if I'm slightly heartbroken about it.” — Singer-songwriter Dave Matthews on CNN


POLL POSITION:

President Obama has opened up a 7-percentage-point lead over Mitt Romney in Wisconsin, according to a survey from liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling. Obama takes 52 percent support over Romney at 45 percent.

Obama leads Romney by a wide margin in Michigan, according to new polls. He leads Romney by 52 to 44 percent in a new poll from CNN and 52 to 38 percent in another poll conducted for the Detroit News by the Republican firm the Glengariff Group.

Enthusiasm among Democratic voters in swing states has risen sharply in recent months, according to a Gallup survey. Gallup polled the 12 battleground states that former President George W. Bush won in 2004 but Obama won in 2008: the survey found that 73 percent of Democratic voters in those states are extremely enthusiastic about the election, up from 53 in late June. Among Republicans, 64 percent now say they are very enthusiastic, compared to 55 in late June.


AD WATCH:

President Obama's campaign released a new Web video made up of entirely out-of-context clips of opponent Mitt Romney, intended, they say, to illustrate that Romney's attack on Obama's "redistribution" comment was unfair.


BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE:

CALIFORNIA: The House Ethics Committee will hold a public hearing Friday on ethics allegations against Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.). The panel has been investigating for the past three years whether Waters violated House rules by attempting to secure federal help during the financial crisis for a bank in which her husband owns stock. Waters has maintained her innocence, and the ethics probe has been weighted by problems.

CALIFORNIA: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's independent expenditure arm is pulling funds from races in North Carolina and Ohio and investing for the first time to target Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), fresh off a new Democratic poll that shows her challenger within striking distance of the incumbent.

CALIFORNIA: Former astronaut José Hernández (D) leads Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) by 46 to 44 percent in a poll conducted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. President Obama narrowly would have won the newly drawn Central Valley California district four years ago, and Democrats are hopeful they can beat the freshman, though most observers think he has an edge in the race.

FLORIDA: A new internal poll has Rep. David Rivera (R) up 6 percentage points over his Democratic challenger, Joe GarciaJose (Joe) Antonio GarciaMueller indictments: Congressional candidate asked Russian operatives for info on opponent Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure Hispanic Caucus to invite Republicans to join MORE, 44 percent to 38, a flip in fortunes from Garcia's poll in late August that showed him ahead by 9 percentage points.

FLORIDA PART II : House Majority PAC targeted Rep. Allen West (R) with a new ad, "What's Worse," which will run as a part of a $1 million ad buy in Florida's 18th District. It highlights his record on women's issues but asserts that "what's worse than Allen West's record on women are the words he uses against them." The ad then features a clip of West during which he is discussing "women that have been neutering American men and bringing them to the point of this incredible weakness," a reference he made in 2011 to women who support Planned Parenthood or members of the protest group Code Pink. West is locked in a tough battle against Democrat Patrick Murphy, and the last poll put them in a statistical dead heat.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Rep. Charlie Bass (R-N.H.) added his name to the list of Republican lawmakers criticizing Mitt Romney for saying that almost half of the country is dependent on government handouts and would never vote for him. Bass, currently in a tight reelection race against Democrat Annie Kuster, stressed in his statement that he still supported Romney.

RHODE ISLAND
: A poll conducted for Rep. David Cicilline's (D-R.I.) campaign shows him with a 10-point lead over Republican Brendan Doherty. Cicilline leads Doherty by 51 to 41 percent in the poll, the second Democratic poll in as many weeks to show him with a comfortable lead.


SENATE SHOWDOWN:

The Chamber of Commerce launched ads in Hawaii, New Mexico, Virginia and Wisconsin on Thursday, adding to three other ads launched this week in Maine, Ohio and Montana by the conservative group.

— In Hawaii, the Chamber launched a positive spot to defend Republican Linda Lingle as a bipartisan and centrist candidate for Senate. She's running against Democratic Rep. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoUnions aren’t a thing of the past. Unions are our future. Administration to brief Senate panel on family reunifications Lawmakers press Trump admin for list of migrant kids separated from families MORE in a tough battle, due to President Obama's popularity in his home state.

— The New Mexico ad says Democratic Rep. Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichCNN congressional correspondent talks about her early love of trolls and family Overnight Energy: DNC to reject fossil fuel donations | Regulators see no security risk in coal plant closures | Senate committee rejects Trump EPA, Interior budgets Energy commission sees no national security risk from coal plant closures MORE has "gone Washington," citing a number of votes he took with his party while in office, including to block construction of the Keystone oil pipeline and for Obama's healthcare law.

— The Virginia ad characterizes Democrat Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineDem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick Election Countdown: Latest on the 2018 Senate money race | Red-state Dems feeling the heat over Kavanaugh | Dem doubts about Warren | Ocasio-Cortez to visit Capitol Hill | Why Puerto Ricans in Florida could swing Senate race Green Day's 'American Idiot' climbs UK charts ahead of Trump visit MORE as wobbly on energy issues, highlighting his position on the Keystone pipeline (he's for it, eventually, according to the ad) and in favor of cap-and-trade — issues that resonate in a state like Virginia, where the energy industry makes up a large portion of jobs. The Virginia ad came after two new polls put Kaine ahead of George Allen (R) in a match-up that's one of the closest — and likely to be one of the hardest-fought — in the nation.

— And in Wisconsin, the Chamber targets Democratic Rep. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinElection Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas Senate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Overnight Health Care: Over 7,000 fail to meet Medicaid work rules in Arkansas | Judge temporarily halts deportations of reunited families | GOP chair in talks over restarting ObamaCare payments MORE for her vote in favor of Obama's healthcare law, which the ad says cuts Medicare funding.

ARIZONA: Richard Carmona (D) will attend a fundraiser in Washington on Friday morning hosted by a number of prominent Democratic consultants, an event that Arizona Republicans say proves that Carmona will "rubber-stamp" President Obama's agenda.

MASSACHUSETTS: Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidSenate GOP breaks record on confirming Trump picks for key court Don’t worry (too much) about Kavanaugh changing the Supreme Court Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick MORE (D-Nev.) announced there would not be additional votes Thursday so Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) would not have an excuse to skip a debate with Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump pick to face grilling over family separations On The Money: Commerce to review uranium imports | Lawmakers urge Trump not to impose auto tariffs | White House wants steeper cuts to EPA funding | Google hit with massive B fine Election Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas MORE. Brown told reporters that he might skip a scheduled debate with his Democratic opponent if Senate votes ran late.

A new poll of the Massachusetts Senate race breaks Warren's four-poll leading streak and puts Brown ahead by a solid margin. The poll, conducted by the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the Boston Herald, gives Brown a 6-percentage-point lead over Warren, with 50 percent support to her 44 percent support among registered voters.

PENNSYLVANIA: Businessman Tom Smith (R) is within the margin of error of Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyCongress should build upon the ABLE Act, giving more Americans with disabilities access to financial tools Senate Dems protest vote on controversial court pick Senate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds MORE (D-Pa.) in a new internal poll, trailing Casey by just 45 to 42 percent. Casey has led most public polling by a wide margin.

SOUTH CAROLINA (2014): The Club for Growth is spending millions in races nationwide this year, but President Chris Chocola said it's already looking toward 2014, and said Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump’s damage control falters Trump: 'I think I did great at the news conference' George Will calls Trump ‘sad, embarrassing wreck of a man’ MORE (R-S.C.) is one incumbent currently in its sights.

VIRGINA: Democratic Senate candidate Tim Kaine said in a debate with GOP rival George Allen that he'd be "open to a proposal that would have some minimum tax level for everyone," a contrast with his normal position on taxation.

WEST VIRGINA: Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinElection Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas Senate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Morrisey accuses Manchin of 'lying' to Trump, attacks ‘liberal’ record MORE (D-W.Va.) declined to say whether he’s supporting President Obama’s reelection bid. “I’m not talking about people’s election, I’m talking about West Virginia, the economy, staying here and getting our job done. You should be worried about what we are doing here,” the West Virginia Democrat said in the Capitol when asked whether he’s supporting Obama.

WISCONSIN: Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) thinks Mitt Romney is dragging him down in his Senate race. "The presidential thing is bound to have an impact on every election," Thompson told Madison TV station WKOW on Wednesday when asked about recent polling that showed him slipping behind Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). "You know, whether you're a Democrat or Republican, if your standard-bearer for the presidency is not doing well, it's going to reflect on the down ballot."


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Mitt Romney's finance filing for August shows evidence of a campaign struggling to keep pace with President Obama as the result of a quirk in election law. Romney raised $66.6 million and spent $66.4 million last month, according to federal election records. But the campaign also borrowed $20 million, a loan necessitated by election rules that did not allow Romney to access his bountiful general election fund until officially accepting the Republican nomination.

The Obama campaign released a new memo meant to raise expectations for Romney in the upcoming presidential debates. "He’s quick, polished, and ready with a punchy attack against the President," Obama campaign manager Jim Messina writes in the public memo.

Obama said that extremists in Libya used an anti-Muslim film “as an excuse” to see if they can “also harm” U.S. interests overseas. Speaking at a town hall hosted by Univision, Obama fielded questions on the attacks in Libya last week, which led to the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan delivered a pep talk to his House colleagues, telling them not to be distracted by the daily polls and controversies of the campaign. "This is going to be an up and down race,” Ryan told the House GOP in a closed-door conference meeting, according to a Republican aide in the room. “Three polls came out that have us within one point. They are going to [try to] distract us.”

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will take over one of K Street’s most prestigious jobs as CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable. Pawlenty has stepped down as co-chairman of Romney’s presidential campaign to take the position.

David Letterman
says he doesn't hate Romney, and is inviting the GOP presidential nominee to come on his show.

Jay Leno will interview Ann Romney in her first late-night talk-show appearance.

The president of the conservative Club for Growth offered characteristically lukewarm support for Romney, saying that he hopes the party's nominee "exceeds expectations" in governing. "I think he has the potential to exceed expectations," Chris Chocola said.

A small number of checks sent by the Obama campaign to vendors have been stolen. The campaign's Midwest press secretary, Ben Finkenbinder, said three checks were lost. "Three checks we sent to vendors made it into the wrong hands, and after learning of this we notified the police," Finkenbinder said in a statement.

Stars of popular political TV series “The West Wing” reunited this week to film a campaign ad for Bridget Mary McCormack, a candidate for Michigan’s Supreme Court and the sister of actress Mary McCormack.


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